Gallery by Greg Barnett
Princeton – Neither Princeton nor PikeView have been accustomed to offensive success this season.
That trend held Wednesday when the two teams matched up, though the one that took more shots proved victorious.
The home-standing Tigers attempted 18 more shots than county foe PikeView, pulling away late for a 56-44 win at Ralph Ball Court in Princeton.
The Tigers shot well at the start, canning 4 of 7 3-point attempts in the opening quarter, taking a 15-6 lead. Their success faltered considerably as they made just one more trey the rest of the way, finishing 5 of 19 from deep but still found sparks when they needed them.
“We have to be good defensively,” Princeton head coach Matt Smith said. “We had what we’d consider a pretty good shooting night tonight and I think we were about 33 percent. That’s good for so we have to play defense and our girls have bought into that and they work hard. The biggest possession of the game, we missed the second free throw and I don’t know how many offensive rebounds we got but they did it on the glass which helped us get those extra opportunities and we did it defensively.”
The rebounds in question came in the fourth with PikeView generating its own spark.
After an Autumn Bane steal and three-point play gave the hosts a seemingly insurmountable 13-point lead early in the fourth, PikeView center Brooke Craft nailed a pair of free throws to key what eventually became a 10-1 run.
A floater from Jocelyn Hall and a 3-pointer from Riley Meadows capped the spurt and made it a 44-40 game but after Kalyn Davis split a pair of free throws, missing the back end, Bane, Reagan Southers and Maddie Stull and Bane again got cracks at it again combining for a four-shot sequence in which Bane cashed in.
It was Bane again two possessions later when Asia Collins split a pair, as the former grabbed the miss for her second stickleback to push the lead to 50-40.
“The biggest thing we preached all year – we’ve got eight or nine kids in the rotation,” Smith said. “We talk about how tonight might be your night but tomorrow might belong to somebody else. The biggest thing is being a great teammate and that’s what I’m most proud of tonight. Kalee Wright stepped up and hit some big shots for us and I’m so proud of her because she struggled. That run (PikeView) made, last year we would’ve crumbled. I have some real leaders on this team starting with Kylie (Conner) because she does what leaders do even if that makes you uncomfortable. We’ve got good senior leadership and that helped us.”
“It hurt with Brooke Craft going out,” PikeView head coach Tracy Raban said. “She’s our big rebounder and we put in a sophomore to take her spot in a situation she’d not been in. She played JV all last year. Not making excuses because she knows she has to box out but we had the momentum and cut it to four and that was the turning point. We felt like we could get that and come down and change things but that was the separator.”
For the Panthers hope seemed lost most of the evening as they failed to shoot above 40 percent in any frame and made just two shots outside of the paint. They never led and when they did find success it came largely when they made shots and had time to set up in their press, frustrating and speeding Princeton up in spurts.
“We’re still trying figure out who we are but I wanted to press sooner but we couldn’t score to get in it,” Raban said. “Anytime there was a deadball it wasn’t underneath the basket to where we could get in it. We’ve got to get more pressure to get easy baskets and get confidence. It’s just a matter of us getting confidence and somebody wanting to step up and do it. We didn’t execute our offense very well – too much standing but I’m a little too hard on them. They’re young and in roles they’re not used to. I told them as long as we’re clicking by February that’s what matters and I think we will. You saw it in spurts there and if we can put together a whole game like that we’ll be okay by February.”
Meadows led all scorers with 18 points while Kalyn Davis and Maddie Stull scored 12 each for the Tigers.